HEADACHE, confusion, nausea and sensitivity to light.
If you wake up with these symptoms after enjoying a few drinks the night before, you can attribute them to a hangover.
But they could be caused by a more serious illness that — according to leading disease experts — can easily be mistaken for the after-effects of a late night partying or the flu.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. If not treated quickly, it can be very serious, killing some of its victims within 24 hours.
It can affect anyone, but it is most common in babies, toddlers, teenagers and young adults.
The UK Health Safety Authority (UKHSA) recently warned that recent college students may be particularly susceptible to this preventable infection Data on vaccination coverage This shows that about one in eight of those entering college or university this year will not be protected against four deadly types of meningitis.
Claire Wright, Head of Insights and Policy at the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Meningitis can kill healthy people within hours and is difficult to distinguish in its early stages from a severe hangover or more common milder illnesses.”
And with many treating themselves to a few drinks at the start of class, students run the risk of not seeking help against the sometimes deadly infection until it’s too late.
dr Tom Nutt, CEO of Meningitis Now, told Sun Health, “We estimate that up to half a million young people between the ages of 18 and 24 may have missed their MenACWY vaccine at school.”
“In addition, we are increasingly concerned about the recent spike in meningitis cases across the UK. Although the number of cases is still below the number recorded before the pandemic, any increase in the disease is worrying.”
“Because there is no vaccine available to protect against all types of meningitis, we urge everyone to educate themselves about the signs and symptoms and seek urgent medical attention if meningitis is suspected.”
According to the charity, certain bacteria increase the risk of meningitis in teenagers and young people.
These are called meningococci A, B, C, W, and Y and can cause meningitis and septicemia (blood poisoning) that can be fatal within hours.
Even those who survive can experience life-changing after-effects such as hearing loss, brain injury, and even loss of limbs.
The early signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicemia can resemble the flu, a stomach infection or a hangover, Meningitis Now told Sun Health.
- Muscle aches
- Stomach cramps
- Fever with cold hands and feet
More specific signs and symptoms are:
- pale, mottled skin
- stiff neck
- Aversion to bright light
- a rash that does not go away under pressure
You can tell it’s a meningitis rash if it doesn’t go away when you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.
Keep in mind that it may be more difficult to see on tan or black skin. Therefore, it is important to examine the palms, soles, palate, abdomen, whites of the eyes, or the inside of the eyelids. accordingly NHS guidance.
However, Meningitis Now emphasized that you shouldn’t wait until a rash appears before seeking help, explaining that symptoms can appear in any order.
“Some may not appear at all, including the rash that many people associate with meningitis,” the charity noted.
“Don’t wait for the rash to appear, trust your instincts and seek medical help if you or a friend is unwell.”
It added: “Meningitis is a terrible and devastating disease that can be fatal within 24 hours,” and urged anyone under the age of 25 who is not protected to apply for the free NHS MenACWY vaccine .
“Vaccines save lives.”
The vaccine protects against four types of meningitis and is offered to most children at school.
What students should do if they feel ill during their studies, the charity urged them to call a GP or the NHS 111 emergency number immediately, even if they think their symptoms are caused by the flu, coronavirus or even a hangover be what might be the case of meningitis.
“Meningitis is a medical emergency, so it is important that you act quickly and seek urgent medical attention to be on the safe side,” it said.
Meningitis Now also urged parents or caregivers to check their children are up to date on their meningitis vaccinations before starting university or college because of the risk of transmitting bacteria to each other due to close living conditions and the… Getting to know many new people increases.
like dr As Shamez Ladhani, Consulting Epidemiologist at the UKHSA, put it: “Every year we see new and returning students fall seriously ill from preventable diseases and some die tragically.”
“When a large number of students from across the country and abroad come together for the first time and mingle closely, the infection can easily spread.
“It is vitally important to ensure you are protected from these deadly insects.”